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Free class teaches how to prepare for, respond to disasters

POSTED: May 5, 2009 12:01 a.m.

Hall County Emergency Management Agency is set to begin its Community Emergency Response Team training at 6 tonight.
CERT educates residents about disaster preparedness and trains them in basic disaster response skills.

William Wright, deputy director of Hall County Emergency Management Agency, said he hopes Hall County residents will attend the first session at the Emergency Services Complex and register for the
free course.

“This is just orientation (tonight) to get a consensus. We do have some who are registered and there’s still openings and (tonight’s) just to get to know each other and set the class syllabus and the schedule,” Wright said.

So far, 10 people are registered for CERT training.

Wright said the 20-hour course can be taught in two-hour segments for 10 weeks or two 10-hour Saturday classes.

Since 2006, Wright said 120 have completed CERT training.

CERT training prepares people for a wide range of disasters, including pandemics, severe weather and terrorism.

“We teach the citizens how to take care of themselves and their family in the event of an emergency or disaster. Then move out to your neighbor, and once you take care of your neighbor, move out to the community,” Wright said.

The course teaches skills such as disaster medical operations, fire safety and search and rescue techniques.

Another important element of CERT training is the Instant Command System.

“Instant command assigns people to different tasks that need to be done during a disaster so we get it done methodically,” Wright said.

The instant command system is a method of delegating tasks so that people can work together quickly and efficiently in an emergency situation.

Wright said the course even covers some psychology.

“There’s a little component on disaster psychology about the stress that you would see plus the stress people would have who are victims,” Wright said.

Wright said the CERT program originated in Los Angeles to prepare people for earthquakes.

“They would train individual teams on each level of that high rise as CERT members so in an earthquake they could take care of that floor and report back down to the main commander,” Wright said. “After 9/11, President Bush really pushed this and made federal funding available. We get federal funding for this.”

Wright said classes can also be organized at no cost for church, civic and homeowners groups.

“We will work to get a class facilitated in their area,” Wright said.



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